Craig Sheffer (Nightbreed, One Tree Hill) stars in Widow’s Point from director Greg Lamberson (Slime City) and based off the 2018 horror novella of the same name by Billy and Richard Chizmar, about a writer locked in a lighthouse where things go bump in the night.
Widow’s Point centers around Sheffer’s Thomas Livingston, a best-selling author looking for some attention to sell a new book. The publicity stunt involves staying a few nights in a supposedly haunted lighthouse. Livingston locks himself in the isolated tower of light and begins recounting its long history and ghostly activities. Soon enough, Livingston is becoming part of a whole new story to scare children for the next few centuries.
PopAxiom discussed Widow’s Point, Slime City, and more with director Gregory Lamberson.
Lamberson, like most everyone, is a lifelong fan of film and television. “I’ve been a TV addict since I was a little kid. I can remember watching monster cartoons … the Herculoids was a big influence on me.”
For Greg, the desire to tell stories was a fundamental part of his mindset. “As young as three or four, my mother would buy me comic books, and those books featured ads for the Aurora monster kits that would glow-in-the-dark. I would cut those out and move them around on the TV to tell my own stories. I would buy the models and watch the movies that inspired the models.”
“It was a fairly steady evolution,” Greg says of his journey into entertainment, “until I saw Star Wars in the seventh grade. That’s when I realized that directing was the way I wanted to tell stories.”
Greg’s road to directing started in Fredonia, a town about an hour south of Buffalo, New York. “I moved to New York City to go to college at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I chose that college because one of the instructors, Roy Frumkes, had made a documentary about George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead using a student crew.”
For Greg, Frumkes meant “… that was a school that didn’t discriminate against people who wanted to make horror films.”
New York became home for Greg for the next 21 years where he “… worked on films during that time, including making three of my own. That’s when I made Slime City, the film I’m probably best known for.”
In New York, Greg learned in part, while being on the set of I Was A Teenage Zombie, the 80s cult classic from director John Elias Michalakis. “That was the first one I worked on. It was 1984, I was a volunteer as a production manager, specifically because I wanted to learn more about how to get a film done because I’d already written Slime City.”
Greg’s behind-the-camera learning experience turned into a role that’s small, but sweet. “One day, an actor didn’t show up, and I stepped into the role of the nerd.”
About Widow’s Point
After 21 years in New York, Greg “switched gears.” The filmmaker moved to Buffalo “and became a novelist. I have 12 novels published and a non-fiction book.”
As a novelist, Greg “became aware of Richard Chismar (Masters of Horror, Roadhouse 2), the owner of Cemetery Dance Publications. He reached out to me and invested in Slime City Massacre.”
Greg and Richard became friends. “Occasionally he would send me a story to see if I thought it’d be good for a movie. He sent me an advance copy of Widow’s Point, a novella he co-wrote with his son Billy, and it was a one-location story set in a lighthouse. I thought, ‘this could work.’”
Getting any novella to film is a tricky process that always includes changes. Sometimes, those changes are for the better in the new medium. “Let me write the script,” Greg told Richard, “I’m an author, and I’ll treat your material respectfully, and if you like what I do with the script, we can go from there.”
Greg wrote the script and Richard “… loved it, and we got together to seek investors.”
Writing Widow’s Point
Turning Widow’s Point into a film was “my first time adapting somebody else’s work,” Greg says, “Three of my novels are adaptations of screenplays I wrote, so I’ve gone the other way.”
Staying faithful to the source material and established continuities is a common topic of debate in a world of books, and comic books turned into movies. “Like a lot of fans of different things, I’m sensitive to changes to source material. Widow’s Point was a novella, so there was room to expand.” But even with room to play, there were challenges to overcome. Greg continues, “It was still a very difficult adaptation in that the novella is all first-person, and it’s a stream of consciousness. So, I had to find some of the key lines from the character’s internal monologues and turn them into dialogue.”
Greg explains, “the novella has 12 or so short stories as flashbacks. I didn’t want to do all 12 because then it would turn into an anthology. So, I picked several key ones and structured the script around them.”
One of the central aspects of the film is the lighthouse itself. “We were a little restricted by the lighthouse. I have two lighthouses to choose from here. But both are sort of traditional lighthouses with a keeper’s quarters attached to them. In the novella, the lighthouse is this giant tower with three levels of rooms in it. That’s something you might see in a del Toro film done with miniatures and CG. So, I did simplify some of the action to accommodate.”
One key difference between the novella and film, Greg says, “The novella has an ambiguous ending, and so I did an ending in the film that ties everything together.”
Money & Safety
It’s no secret that funding is a vital part of the filmmaking process. Simply put, no money, no movie. “Finding the money is the hardest part,” Greg affirms, “It’s made harder now because we don’t know what’s happening with the world.”
The global pandemic is causing chaos in a variety of industries, which are readjusting to new normals. Movie productions are no different. Greg is an advocate for erring on the side of caution. “Like the ad campaign for the Hills Have Eyes said, ‘It’s only a movie.’ In the same way, you wouldn’t do a dangerous stunt without the proper safety precautions; we have to treat this the same way.”
Finding a new normal will take some time because it’s tricky. “You don’t want to endanger your cast. At the same point, you don’t want to write every scene so that your characters are ten feet apart or in different rooms.”
Greg’s a big horror fan and touts many legends of the genre as inspiration. “Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows). Another guy I think has influenced my work a lot is [comic book creator] Marv Wolfman (Tomb of Dracula). Jack Arnold, who did Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was part of the studio system, and they gave him B-horror movies to work on, and he cranked them out. I admire that productivity.”
In the age of remakes, what’s a dream project for Greg? “I’m a big fan of The Omega Man. The version that they did in the 70s of Matheson’s I Am Legend. I would love to do a faithful version of the novel.”
Widow’s Point is out on digital and DVD. What’s next from Greg? “I have a horror film that I want to do. A cabin in the woods movie with werewolves. I’m also planning a sort of female First Blood.”
Is Widow’s Point on your watch list?
Thanks to Gregory Lamberson and October Coast
for making this interview possible.
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